One of the great pleasures in my professional life is getting to go on job walks for infrastructure projects going out to bid. I am the sales guy for our company and so I get to go to the dams to look at the projects for the solicitations.
On every one of my visits to a dam I am impressed with the machinery keeping the dam operating. Every piece of machinery on a hydroelectric dam has to be fully functional on a 24/7 basis all year. As a result, the Corps of Engineers takes every upgrade very seriously. That means every fabrication, every piece of machinery, every stick of rebar in every dam is documented.
When a solicitation comes out from the USACE it has both a set of bid drawings and a set of “For Information Only” (FOI) drawings. The FIO drawings show details of the surrounding area and structure not being part of the required work. I always enjoy reviewing the FIOs. Many of these drawings are scanned copies of hand-drawn large-format drawings. Most were drawn in the middle of the last century. They can be works of art, if you are into that sort of thing. And, I am.
Our responsibility when working on infrastructure projects is to provide the best engineered solutions we can for the project requirements. We take that responsibility as seriously as the USACE does. Part of that responsibility involves reviewing the contract documents to determine if we can see a better solution than originally presented by the Corps. This could be a change in design, materials or manufacturing processes. The Corps refers to this as “Value Engineering” and they encourage it. How great is that?
Whereas the USACE has been operating the dams for a very long time they are always interested in new and better ways of doing things. That is one of the many reasons I really enjoy working on their projects. We get to bring our 30 years of industrial machine design experience to projects on these amazing mechanical systems that are part of the infrastructure of our great country.
~ David Browning
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